(US); 2000; Rated R; 112 Minutes
Elisabeth Shue: Linda McKay
Kevin Bacon: Sebastian Caine
Josh Brolin: Matthew Kensington
Kim Dickens: Sarah Kennedy
Greg Grunberg: Carter Abbey
Joey Slotnick: Frank Chase
Mary Jo Randle: Janice Walton
Produced by Stacy Lumbrezer, Alan Marshall, Marion
Rosenberg, Kenneth J. Silverstein, Douglas Wick; Directed
by Paul Verhoeven; Screenwritten by Gary Scott
Thompson and Andrew W. Marlowe
by DAVID KEYES
Verhoeven’s “Hollow Man” is a technical achievement that
is hard to resist, greatly heaped with wondrous images of
striking detail and accuracy that—pardon the repetition
of phrase—only special effects can master. But it is a movie,
alas, littered by all the negative attire of a traditional
summer blockbuster; unstable characters, weak reasoning,
an incoherent plot, and sometimes, even general stupidity.
It’s in the same vein as last summer’s “The Sixth Sense,”
I guess; while the efforts showcased by these filmmakers
are admirable, the hordes of conflicting energy drain the
thrill of simply watching the visual style unfold on itself.
ways, the product is also reminiscent of “The Haunting,”
another film with brilliant texture and dreary substance.
Neither of these summer flicks are special when you get
right down to the foundation, yes, but at least with the
latter, the visuals were given a chance to mount on themselves
and generate their own intricate atmosphere (some will remember
that I recommended the movie based strictly on those grounds).
“Hollow Man” lacks that opportunity; its story and characters
get more attention than the spectacular visual shots, molding
the final product into a display of wasted potential and
Bacon stars as Dr. Sebastian Cane, the man in question,
who has invented a serum that causes “reversion” in living
organisms—that is, invisibility—for the Pentagon to use
as a primary defense. He and his team of medical researchers
happily test the formula out on lab animals (in the first
scene, a rat is killed by an unseen force), but like all
scientists with these kinds of discoveries in the movies,
Caine sees himself as the ultimate guinea pig, asking his
associates to send him into this plane of transparency,
and without the permission from those in charge of the experiments.
An antidote to the transformation has been invented, but
as Caine learns a bit too late, it doesn’t work on humans.
Not that it really matters, though, as the wise doctor grows
comfortable with this alteration to his physical existence,
using it as an excuse to scare friends, eavesdrop on people
and seek revenge amongst those whom he feels have crossed
him (like his ex-girlfriend, for one). Unfortunately, such
actions drive Caine so wild that he plots to kill his entire
like this is the reason why none of the characters deserve
a shred of respect from the viewer. In general, the ensemble
cast surrounding Sebastian is made up of spineless maggots,
who move around on screen with such paranoia and stupidity
that they could easily be compared to the victims of any
teen slasher flick. Bacon’s character, likewise, exhibits
the kind of characteristics that could make him the ideal
killer behind the mask: pointless vendettas, thirst for
gratuitous (and often cheesy) bloodshed, fragmented logic
and moronic persistence (who cares if his ex-girlfriend
is involved with a fellow scientist?).
those conflicts barely scratch the surface here. The major
problem with the story is that it doesn’t care about providing
the audience with a legitimate explanation on this groundbreaking
formula: what is involved, how it is applied, what the effects
are, and most importantly, how it is at all possible. I
am reminded for a moment of “Jurassic Park,” the Steven
Spielberg epic which provided great insight on how a team
of scientists were able to revive the ferocious creatures
that walked the Earth millions of years before mankind.
If movies have the capacity to make breakthroughs in medicine,
science or even technology, isn’t it at least necessary
of them to provide some kind of explanation leading up to
the discovery, even if it’s far-fetched?
is a rather eccentric director, I think, who seems to adopt
each new premise without any forethought in mind to his
past efforts. Notice how “Hollow Man” shares a thin line
of similarity to something like “Starship Troopers” or “Total
Recall”—the brilliant style is echoed, but the narrative
idiocy prevents it from ever attaining a shine. He just
can’t seem to get past this annoying blend of visual brilliance
and narrative incoherence. This is distracting, to an extent,
because the man hasn’t really done one solid movie to speak
of in terms of raw essence; instead of consistently jumping
from genre to genre, maybe he should remain anchored on
one, if only until he is able to match his distinctive style
with a script that can make use of his visuals (not to mention
some common sense). No one likes a director, after all,
who would rather push his mistakes off to the side instead
of learn from them.
David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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